Do your users’ virtual desktops spark joy? If not, it might be time to right-size your VDI.
There are many compelling reasons to implement VDI. Placing multiple users on the same host can make hardware use more efficient and lower maintenance needs. Additionally, because the guest OS doesn’t live on the user’s device, VDI can ease anxiety over data loss and enable greater user mobility and device sharing.
But like that suit hanging in the back of your closet (hey, you spent an entire paycheck on that suit!), VDI fit and style changes over time. However, IT’s not the only one that suffers from an ill-fitting VDI environment. Failing to right-size on a regular basis is like sending your kids off to school in identical copies of that suit. And if it’s hot or stiff or the other children make fun of them—tough luck!
People crave things that make sense for their lifestyles, their preferences, and their needs. Just ask any of the millions of people who picked up a copy of Marie Kondo’s organization book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. In it, Kondo lays out the steps to clear your clutter for good, starting with a ruthless process of going through all your belongings.
The key to deciding if something stays or goes? Whether it “sparks joy.” If yes, keep it. If not, let it go.
If you can’t deliver a VDI experience that delights your users, what’s the point? Surveys have shown that technology that doesn’t align with user needs increases employee frustration and can even make people consider quitting their jobs.
Applying Kondo’s philosophy to right-sizing VDI, an approach based on need-based procurement (the analytics equivalent of joy-sparking) can help IT construct users’ dream workspaces.
Need-Based Procurement: The Ultimate IT Tidying Approach
Kondo posits that the reason most of us cycle between periods of relative tidiness and complete disarray is that we are never tackling the root cause of the problem. Organizing here and there will not defeat entropy; success lies in dragging everything out into the light and tackling it once and for all. After this event, she promises, you will never need to work at tidying again.
This initial marathon phase is akin to assessing the IT environment. Thorough right-sizing at the start of a VDI project should eliminate the need for a major overhaul down the line.
The prospect of truly examining what technology the organization has accumulated over the years and decluttering what no longer adds value is daunting. Typically, there are three main roadblocks that prevent IT departments from properly right-sizing VDI:
- End-user technology changes can feel personal and can cause friction when IT and users aren’t on the same page
- Right-sizing requires dedicated effort to do right, and the appropriate budget, knowledge, and tools to execute
- Technical challenges can derail any desktop transformation, and IT must have visibility into legacy systems to prevent poor performance and incompatibilities
Kondo offers a regimented order to tidying categories of things that moves from easy to hard, starting with clothing and moving to books, paper, miscellany, and sentimental items.
When right-sizing VDI, IT can mobilize against low-hanging fruit first, such as unused applications. From there, they can examine existing hardware, end-user mobility requirements, application virtualization concerns, and current performance baselines.
While deciding whether a t-shirt brings you happiness might take some practice, it is ultimately a decision you’re making for yourself. Faced with another person’s wardrobe, the spark joy method becomes an impossible task. But IT provisioning isn’t as subjective. We can make educated assumptions about whether a technology is adding value by evaluating objective data, particularly usage and end-user experience.
For example, during an assessment, you may find that you have a number of applications in your environment that would be difficult to virtualize.
By examining usage data, such as how many users are accessing an application and how much time they are spending with it, IT can prioritize applications that users truly need and weed-out ones that aren’t delivering value. This approach ensures that IT’s efforts will benefit end users and curbs overspending on licensing and support of unused or underused software.
Spark Joy with Excellent End-User Experience
Even the tidiest home requires continuous upkeep. Of course, once you’ve whittled to the essentials, that process becomes a lot easier. After right-sizing VDI, ongoing monitoring and management will ensure long-term success.
The most valuable metric for upkeeping your VDI environment is end-user experience, which provides the clearest insight into the quality of users’ interactions with their desktops. Declining experience is a clear signal to IT that something is off and requires investigation. This helps IT address issues even before end users perceive them—a proactive approach that decreases help desk tickets and can prevent problem escalation. Also important is the ability to access this information in real-time to further increase the agility of IT’s response.
To recap, there are three steps to life-changing VDI:
- Assess and baseline the current environment
- Adopt a need-based approach to procurement
- Continuously evaluate and align to user and business need
After tidying their homes, Kondo’s clients report clearer minds and the will to finally go after their dreams. There is no force field between “work life” and “home life.” It’s time we recognize the weight of digital experience and the untapped potential of the end-user computing data our organizations generate every day.
Lakeside’s workspace analytics solution, SysTrack, allows IT to centrally monitor virtual and physical desktops (persistent and non-persistent), virtualized servers and applications, and RDS. SysTrack’s endpoint architecture preserves visibility for IT as various infrastructure layers are moved to the cloud and hosted externally.
Heather Bicknell is the product marketing manager at Lakeside and host of the Lifeguard IT podcast.